By Elliot Spagat, Maria Verza and Juan A. Lozano – Associated Press
Two US officials said, Tuesday, that many Haitian immigrants camped in a small Texas border town in the United States have been released, despite government assurances that thousands of people who have settled in the area face immediate expulsion.
Haitians freed ‘Very, very widely’ In recent days, an official estimated the number in the thousands. The source, with first-hand knowledge of the operations, spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Many of them have been left free with a notice to go to the immigration office within 60 days, a solution that requires less processing time for border guard agents than an immigration court order, and is aimed at the speed with which authorities move, the official said.
The source explained that the Department of Homeland Security has been bussing Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, along the Texas border, and this week included trips to Tucson, Arizona. Migrants are processed by border guards at those points.
A second official, with direct knowledge of the matter and speaking on condition of anonymity, noted that a significant number of Haitians are being processed under immigration law and have not boarded the deportation flights to Haiti that began on Sunday. The official couldn’t be more specific about this number.
In recent days, the officials said, US authorities have been quick to find buses bound for Tucson, but have turned to flights after failing to find enough transportation contractors. Haitian Coast Guard planes flew from Del Rio to El Paso.
The releases in the US came despite indications of a massive effort to expel Haitians on flights home under the power of a pandemic that is denying migrants the opportunity to seek asylum. A third official, who is not authorized to discuss the operation publicly, said there will be seven daily flights to Haiti as of Wednesday.
Accounts of the mass release — some testified by Associated Press reporters at the Del Rio bus station — contrast with statements made the day before by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mallorcas, who traveled to the city to make a quick promise. Response.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be deported, your trip will be unsuccessful and you will put your life and the lives of your family at risk,” Mayorcas said at a news conference on Monday.
The releases come amid a swift process of evacuating the camp under a bridge that, according to some estimates, during the week was home to more than 14,000 people in a city of 35,000.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, on a visit to Del Rio on Tuesday, noted that the county’s highest authority told him that the settlement’s latest census was about 8,600 people.
The criteria for determining who would be deported to Haiti and who would be released on US soil were not clear, but officials indicated that priority in removal flights was for single adults.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.